On the eve of President Pinhead's last State of the Union Address (who says the writer's strike isn't providing us with quality television?), I woke up flush with the feeling that we are on the verge of picking a new president, and all the variety we have at our disposal.
Okay, so the candidates themselves may have backed themselves into a corner of commonality, and even though we all say that we crave "change", there is a large part of our lizard brains that hopes for dramatic sameness as we continue our trudge into the twenty-first century. This coupled with the pending Kennedy endorsement of Barack Obama got me to thinking about all the presidents that we will never have: The Hollywood Presidents.
I'm not talking Reagan Renaissance here. Ronnie played football heroes and befuddled college professors. I'm addressing our long-standing fascination with the president as he (or she) could be. My first stop came from my most recent encounter with this person, Bruce Greenwood. He played the U.S. President in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets (The Search For Nicolas Cage's Acting Career)". He played our chief executive as an easy-going fan of early American history, a guy who was just as comfortable at a state dinner as he was being kidnapped by a conspiracy fueled archaeologist. Top that off with the fact that he's starring in the new Star Trek movie as the Enterprise's proto-captain, Christopher Pike, and you've got a resume that screams "leadership".
If you add up all the actors who have played the role, you have quite a list. You might gloss over Donald Pleasance, the bumbler who got himself hijacked and abused in "Escape From New York", or Peter Sellers well-intentioned Merkin Muffley in "Doctor Strangelove". You might be tempted to cast your ballot for the lovable widower Michael Douglas in "The American President" or even James Earl Jones who played the first black man to become The Man in "The Man" way back in 1972.
But most likely, you'll settle for the comfortable TV version, Martin Sheen. After seven seasons as President Bartlet on "The West Wing", and years before that he honed his liberal chops by playing first Bobby then John Kennedy. He was even hanging around the Oval Office while Michael Douglas tried to figure out how he was going to get Annette Benning into the Lincoln Bedroom, even though he was only Chief of Staff. Sounds like a good choice, right? Well, not if you'd also seen "The Dead Zone", in which he plays monomaniacal Greg Stillson who, in one possible future, is the guy who pushes "the button" to bring on the Rapture. Given his war record ("The Execution of Private Slovik" and "Apocalypse Now"), I'm not sure how much we can really trust him.
So I guess since Henry Fonda's dead, Harrison Ford would rather be Indiana Jones than president, and until they straighten out that whole Constitution thing Schwarzenegger's out, we're stuck with Jack Nicholson or Kevin Kline. My money's on the guy who played "Dave".